GAPS Diet Part I: What is Going on With My Intestines?
Last spring, I developed a tooth infection that brought me to the ER in the middle of the night. I was in dire pain, head pounding and could not sleep. Of course the protocol was to give me a course of dreaded antibiotics; my first course in nearly 17 years! Knowing what I know about intestinal health and the dangers of antibiotics, I was petrified! Lucky for me, I knew what precautions to take to prevent the antibiotics from wreaking complete havoc on my intestines. For years I had been making and consuming large quantities of fermented foods and drinks; kombucha, saurkraut, kim chi, yogurt, etc. They have been staples in my diet. My intestines have been nothing but healthy and regular since I began these practices, about 5 years ago. For insurance, I also decided to purchase some medical-grade probiotics. I was determined to not let me intestinal health be compromised.
Fast forward a month and a half later, my tooth develops another infection. This tooth had to go! I immediately scheduled an appointment for an extraction. Meanwhile, I was afraid that the infection would go to my brain, so here I went again; more antibiotics. I followed the same protocol….more fermented foods, more probiotics. Everything seemed to be going alright.
In June, I took my girls to our annual camping trip with friends on Cape Cod. It’s one of our favorite weeks of the year. The absolute unfortunate part of this yearly trip is our group’s inevitable encounter with ticks! Cape Cod is a haven for Lyme-infested deer ticks. We have been going for ten years now and our family has been pretty lucky to have minimal tick bites. This year, we were all affected! The ticks on my girls were not engorged, so they must not have been attached for very long. However, the one I found on me was definitely engorged and I had no way of knowing how long it was on me. I tried to not panic and just pay attention to any changes in my body. We went back home and a week and a half later, I started developing headaches, diarrhea and sensitivity to light. I called my doctor and low and behold, her recommendation was to begin a course of antibiotics. I was beside myself. This would make 3 rounds of antibiotics in a matter of 3 months! But I was petrified of developing full-on Lyme disease! I bit the bullet and took the antibiotics….AGAIN!
Everything seemed to be going ok for a while. My headaches and diarrhea subsided, but a few weeks later, I developed major sciatica pain. Of course I had NO idea if that was related to any of this, but it knocked me down for 6 weeks. No running, yoga or dancing for me…only walking. Anyone who knows me would realize how much this killed me. I was determined to heal, so my exercise regime only included only included walking and hiking.
I continued taking large doses of probiotics and eating fermented foods and beverages for the next 2 months. I took myself off the probiotics in September but continued eating fermented foods. A week later, the diarrhea returned. I decided it was best to keep it at bay, and resumed taking probtiotics. As long as I was religious about my probiotics, diarrhea was in control.
Somewhere right around Christmas, my bowels took a turn for the worse, even though I was faithfully taking my probiotics. SOMETHING WAS WRONG! But what? Did I have Lyme? Did I have some sort of pathogenic bacteria overgrowth due to the 3 rounds of antibiotics? I had my 3rd Lyme test….NEGATIVE. Not that I trust those tests all that much, but I wasn’t really having other Lyme symptoms. In the beginning of January, we took a trip to Puerto Rico. Everything got even worse! My diarrhea took a turn for the worse and was accompanied by bloating and gas. I was extremely uncomfortable!! I couldn’t wait to go home to take care of myself. I knew exactly what I needed to do, even though I didn’t have a diagnosis….I needed to begin the GAPS DIET!
To be continued…..